Having recently hit the three year mark of surviving Stage IV cervical cancer, I was curious to find out how many other women were still fighting the battle, or worse, will lose the fight this year. The data I found was startling:
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014:
- 45,360 new cases of invasive (cells have spread out of local area) cervical cancer will be diagnosed
- Non-invasive (cancer cells have not spread from local area) cases will be diagnosed at approximately four times that number
- And in 2014, 2040 women will die from cervical cancer
Although these numbers are significantly lower than say breast cancer, when it is your wife or mother or sister, or YOU, one woman affected by cervical cancer is too many. Statistics show the mortality rate from cervical cancer has dropped by almost 70% since 1955. This is largely attributed to the increased availability and use of the pap smear. It should be noted though that the pap smear is an excellent tool for early detection, but does not in any way prevent cervical cancer. The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine shows great promise in preventing the types of cervical cancer caused by HPV. Data to quantify it’s impact is still being collected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the median age to be diagnosed with HPV related cervical cancer is 48, and occurs most frequently in Hispanic women, but cervical cancer can affect any woman at any age, for any reason. The only prerequisite for cervical cancer is having a cervix.
The most effective tool in preventing and surviving cervical cancer is knowledge. Do not rely on regularly scheduled GYN visits and pap smears alone. Learn the symptoms. Ask questions. Get educated. In addition to your personal gynecologist, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, Foundation for Women’s Cancer,American Cancer Society, and LiveStrong Foundation are all wonderful resources.
If you do not have a regular gynecologist or cannot afford the visit, pap smear, or other needed tests, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (HBCCEDP) can help.
Please do your part to ensure you and all women close to you get educated, vaccinated, and get screened regularly. Fight like a girl and knock cervical cancer out!